YouTube Video Creators & Copyright: Who Owns the Rights? Part 2

In our previous blog, we introduced the battle for copyright between YouTube Creator, Lindsay Ellis, and YouTube and Universal Music Group (UMG). Ellis has challenged YouTube’s copyright policy. To read the introduction of this blog in part one, click here. In this blog, we will further explore the copyright policies of YouTube and how they manage their copyright policies, starting with Fair Use.

Fair Use Defined

Fair use is a legal concept allowing a limited use of copyrighted material without obtaining the permission of the original copyright holder. It is commonly applied in the writing of critiques of works or parodies. In print, this may include a quote from a book or paper. In video or a podcast, it may include a short clip or sample.

YouTube’s Application of Fair Use

Officially, YouTube upholds the fair use doctrine. However, it uses software that automatically detects the presence of copyrighted material and alerts the copyright owner of the potential claim. Since it detects song clips the same as full songs, a problem arises.

“YouTube claims to care about and to uphold [fair use], but functionally they do not,” Ellis told Business Insider.

Her “Woke Disney” video has received 1.5 million views to date. In it Ellis plays a snippet of “Song of the Roustabouts.” She discusses the lyrics in a voice-over, then the historical stereotypes represented in the lyrics.

Some of the discussion of the complicated issue has taken place publicly on Twitter. YouTube tweeted to Ellis:

“Our Copyright team looked into this and confirmed that the claim is valid. We see that you’ve appealed the claim, which provides UMG with 30 days to review your appeal. If you would like to resolve the issue directly with them, please DM us for more info.”

YouTube determines validity via its software that detects copyrighted material. As it states in the tweet, the video platform encourages the parties themselves to resolve the conflict directly. UMG took no legal action against her, but YouTube placed the ads and shared their revenue with UMG.

Before you create any new videos or songs, you may wish to consult an Edmonton lawyer who specializes in copyright and intellectual property law. Let our office provide insight into the complex world of copyright and fair use.